Selling Womanhood: Veet

The way that people talk about gender make it sound like it's purely biological and immutable.  Boys and men are aggressive, driven by their biological urges, and competitive; girls and women are passive, reserved, and gentle.  What this idea misses is that gender is a social construction that has changed over time, and is shaped by many different forces.  One of those forces is from billions of dollars in advertising.

In this commercial for Veet, a boyfriend wakes up to find that his girlfriend is a burly man because she has not adequately shaved her legs. He is, of course, horrified, because being in bed with another man is obviously one of the worst things that could happen.  Just to be clear that he's not actually gay, the voice is that of a woman, while she appears as a man because of her inadequately shaved legs.  The ad zooms out at the end and we see the girlfriend in her "real" body, very feminine, to again make it clear, he wasn't actually with a man and there was no actual gender bending going on.

This commercial hits the sweet spot of gender policing: it clearly tells women they need to spend money on products to alter their natural bodies to conform, it uses homophobia to sell femininity, and has the added bonus of reinforcing notions of masculinity and heterosexuality, by showing how repulsive being with another man is.  Being a mammal means that you have body hair.  There's nothing inherently natural or feminine about removing body hair.  It's an arbitrary distinction that's been constructed to more clearly separate women from men.